This morning is our scheduled Bamboo Raft ride through the Nine Bend Creek. We were very excited, having spotted these rafts up close, floating by as we walk along the creek bank, and from afar when we looked down at the Nine Bend Creek during the Tianyou Peak hike.
After a quick cup of coffee and some snacks, we headed out from our hotel at 7:30 am to the nearby local bus stop for the 30 minutes shuttle to the Bamboo Raft pier. We got there in good time for our scheduled ride time of 8:30 am. Unfortunately, it was misty and raining lightly, so almost all passengers, including us, were equipped with rain ponchos. Some passengers had plastic booties to protect their shoes. Rain ponchos and the plastic booties can be purchased at any number of vendor stalls in front of the pier, if necessary.
There was a large waiting area for raft passengers, and many staff to check tickets and direct passengers, including reminders for everyone to put rain ponchos on before heading out to the pier. We were told for today, each raft would take 5 passengers. Most passengers were either family groups or with a large tour groups, so we were told to wait so they can pair us up with three other passengers. We ended up with three middle age ladies from a large Chinese tour group.
The five of us then walked down to the wharf embarking zone. We can see that the embarking zone has been designed to handle a large volume of passengers. It reminded me of the line up system at Disneyland.
Along with the three ladies, we got on the bamboo raft, put on our mandatory life jackets, sat down on a bamboo chair, then off we went.
The raft was manned by two raft polers, the main guy in front and another in the rear. The poler in front also acts as a tour guide, calling out each bend of the creek, pointing out the different formations we see, and telling stories of the creek. As luck will have it, the three ladies, school mates for many years, were excellent singers. They sang beautiful Chinese folk songs as we drifted along flat sections and holding to our chairs on some small rapid sections.
The raft polers skillfully navigated the creek with ease, steering, pushing, at small and big rocks, and against mountain cliffs. We felt completely safe even at some perilous looking sections of the creek. We thoroughly enjoyed the 9.5 km relaxing ride in spite of the grey and misty weather.
At the conclusion of the ride, we hopped on one of the shuttle buses, then walked the short distance back to our hotel to dry off and warm up.
After a rest from the early morning excitement, we headed out again to hike two more popular hikes in another section of the Mount Wuyi scenic area, the One Line Sky and the Tiger Hissing Peak.
We started at One Line Sky, not knowing what to expect. Had we read the warning that this hike should be avoided during wet weather as the path is dark and slippery, we would have reconsidered the hike. It turned out to be a nerve wrecking but interesting experience.
One Line Sky is a fissure cave with a narrow crack that opens towards the sky. It started quite innocently, a path of steps led to the fissure between two gigantic rocks. The path was narrow, about 1 meter wide at this point. Then after five minutes along this path, there was an opening where we could exit and choose to walk outside or continue onward through a narrower path. At this decision point, there was a large sign warning visitors that the narrowest part of the cave is just 30 centimeters in width.
We pushed forward, with several hikers in front of us and a few hikers behind us. After another five minutes, the path was increasing darker, narrower, and steeper. Some of the hikers in front of us did not want to go any further and started turning back even though they were not supposed to. Fortunately, we were not at the narrowest point of the path yet so we suck in our belly and let them go by. After letting them by, we continued with only one man in front of us. After another five minutes when the path became even narrower and really steep, the man in front of us froze and would not go forward. We didn’t know how much longer is this dark wedge trail between the huge rocks, and how much tighter it would become. We had to encourage each other to continue on.
Finally, the worst was over, the path became wider and brighter again, and we emerged from the fissure cave. It was a relief that we got out of this super narrow slot fissure cave.
At this point, we had the option to hike 2.8 km to our next destination, the Tiger Hissing Peak, or return to the parking lot for a shuttle bus to take us to the Tiger Hissing Peak hike trail head. As it was still drizzling, we decided on the shuttle bus option.
The hike started leisurely from the entrance. Then just before the hike turn into a steep stair climb, there was a sign that warned visitors that the hike is one way only, and the hike is steep and strenuous with 344 steps. Hikers are not permitted to return the same way, as it is would be too dangerous to hike down, but must continue to the exit at either One Line Sky or Jade Maiden Peak.
We proceeded on the sturdy and textured rock steps, counting the steps to avoid thinking about our steps hugging the exposed sheer steep cliff. This hike is not for people with vertigo.
When we got to the top, we went to a viewing platform for the panoramic view of the peaks. But unfortunately, the clouds obscured most of the peaks. Another 50 meters away, there was the Bridge of Fate, a short bridge over another high sheer narrow slot between two huge mountain rocks.
We continued our way out of the hike following the 2 km route via the Jade Maiden Peak exit. We descended down a steep flight of stairs, overlooking an imposing large monolithic rock. Finally, the drizzle that dogged us all day finally stopped.
Further along the trail, we were rewarded with yet another unique feature, the Goddess of Mercy temple (Tian Cheng temple) carved dramatically into the rock. The lady Buddha, Goddess of Mercy statue (Guanyin in Chinese) was so large and imposing, yet so peaceful and fitting within the splendid setting.
As we emerged from at the Jade Maiden Peak exit, we walked pass another pastoral scene of neatly planted new tea bushes besides rows of matured tea bushes.
As we approached the shuttle bus area, there was a shuttle trolley already there filled with passengers. Without checking, we hopped on it, thinking that it would take us back to the Wuyi Palace temple shuttle bus hub, close to our hotel. But it turned out that the trolley took us to the Wuyishan South Entrance, an enormous tourist facility and one of the two main entrances to the Wuyishan Scenic Area.
We then realized that our hesitation to visit Wuyishan during the colder, non-peak season, was in fact a real blessing in disguise, as we avoided the typical large crowds of Chinese tourists in peak travel season.